19 09.248S 178 32.430E
Posting by Barb:
Suki had given us an invitation to participate in the Sunday service and we could see that it meant a lot for us to share that day of ‘rest’ day with them.
So early in the morning we got dressed in our ‘Fijian’ Sunday best. That meant a Sulu skirt for Denny. Becky and I had to put on our finest that covered the knees and shoulders. We arrived at Suki and Ba’s home in time for some pictures and then the Lali (Lali ni meke) drums sounded, letting us all know that it was time to go to the church. We were escorted to our own pew for the 1 ½ hour special ‘youth’ service that happens once a year.
After the service we were invited to share in the family feast. I know Ba made it all the more special because we were there! They gave us cutlery although Suki admitted they would eat the Fijian way and also that everything had been cooked the Fijian way (ie nothing fried) all boiled in coconut milk or cooked in the Lovo which is an earth oven (a fire made on in a pit in the ground lined with heat-resistant stones). So we had a variety of fish caught the day before (including a very large fish netted by Ba), Octopus, clams, crab meat which was cooked in a large pot and then nicely re-stuffed in the crab shell, sweet potatoes, greens that tasted much like spinach, and our donated curry rice and our home made coffee cake for dessert. It was a feast in Fijian style!! And yes Becky had a taste of most of it but I can’t say it was her favorite!
19 09.248S 178 32.430E
Posting by Barb:
Caviar of the Pacific – Balolo, what is it? Well Suki described it as a mass of wriggling, delectable worms that rise en masse to the surface during the third quarter of the moon, once or twice a year. Carlos and Elisabeta from S/V Barca Pulita, the only other cruising boat in Fulaga while we were there, had experienced this in previous years. They said that the water around their boat transformed into a sea of writhing, squirming worms. Once I did have internet , I researched this phenomena, and learned that the timing of the spawning is not quite understood but scientists believe it may be associated with rising sea temperatures, moon tides, length of daylight, conditions of the sea and observations of the weather. Balolo wasn’t something that Becky was anxious to try but Suki said not to worry he would make a Balolo pizza for Becky in the Lovo!!
As the Balolo would normally rise in the reef but outside the lagoon where we could not navigate with the boat, Ba explained to us where to go with the dinghy. A place called the ‘swimming pool’. We would have to be there just before sunrise as once the sun was out the Balolo would disintegrate. We set the alarm for four in the morning and got in the dinghy with buckets and containers to catch the Balolo. It was a 10 minute dinghy ride and a 10 minute walk. We had our wet suits on but it was still a chilly dinghy ride in the dark. We walked to the swimming pool and waited as the sun rose. But on this third quarter moon there would not be any Balolo rising. It will probably happen on the next third quarter of the moon but unfortunately we will not be here in Fulaga to experience that natural phenomenon. As simple as life is here the complexity of nature is astounding and every day we get to be part of the wonderment or at least learn a little more about it!
19 09.248S 178 32.430E
Posting by Barb:
Suki had suggested that we take our boat and go to the sand spit and have a Fijian picnic and we were game for that. Fijian picnic meant eat whatever is speared, picked or found that was edible and then cooked over an open fire. Despite Becky’s marginal fondness for seafood she was willing to try anything. I don’t think anyone of us realized that coming to Fulaga would mean endless meals of ‘fresh’ fish. We had plenty of meat in the freezer but the local hospitality meant eating what they offered.
At 9:00 in the morning Suki, Ba, Tai (their grandson), La (friend of their grandson), and their nephew were at the shore waving at us to come pick them up. It took 2 dinghy trips but we finally had everyone on board.
We decided to share our last fresh pineapple that we had on board with everyone. Tai wasn’t quite sure if he liked the look of the fruit but once he had a taste there was no stopping him. He didn’t talk much but just did a quiet eye brow raise which meant ‘I want some more please’. We motored to the sand spit, Suki happily steered the boat as he knew the route. It was a beautiful anchorage spot, sandy bottom, great holding, no reefs to worry about. That describes all the anchorages in the Fulaga lagoon.
Once we were anchored and had everyone on shore Ba, with the help of her machete, quickly erected a shady palm leaf structure and had a little fire going.
We were told to bring nothing on shore but I contributed a couple of Mahi steaks and some ‘juicy’ drink as Tai called it. Becky wanted to lie in the sun and Denny and I accompanied Suki to his fishing spot. There were two reef passes nearby full of fish and I even saw a turtle swim by. Suki set off with his spear and Denny and I floated the passes amidst hundreds of other fish. Sorry no water camera!!
Suki managed to catch a fish for everyone and Ba cooked them all on the open fire. Even six year old La was walking around with a sharp knife wanting to clean the fish. I was wondering how we were going to eat the fish but Ba quickly wove together a couple of coconut palm leaf plates and filled it with a whole, piping hot fish and a sweet potato (grown in Suki’s plantation). Then we just used our fingers ( we all passed the head and brain of the fish to Ba as it was her favourite part). I think even Becky would agree that fresh cooked fish can be pretty tasty!With just using a machete and a spear they prepared everything for a wonderful picnic. I sometimes envy their simple lifestyle. Why do we insist on making life complicated and we call it progress!
Well after a month in Fulaga we were starting to miss the perks of complexity and progress as we missed family and friends that we normally stay in touch with using Skype, Face Time, Magic Jack or FaceBook. We just had a satellite phone and used that sparingly.
Cannibalism in Fiji
19 08.864S 178 33.872E
Posting by Barb:
The word ‘Cannibalism’ itself creates an eerie feeling. But it is a fact that cannibalism was a part of life in Fiji hundreds of years ago. This practice of cannibalism increased during the early part of the 19th century and can around the same time ‘white man’ arrived. In the case of some tribes, the prime motive may have been revenge; at another, simply their appetite! or some of both. Our encounter with the locals in the Northern Lau had already given us insight as to how the locals felt about their history and in jest they would talk about eating each other.
From reading other blogs and talking to other cruisers that had visited Fulaga we had learned that there was a cave which held the remains of human bones. So we decided to ask Suki, our host, whether he knew of such a place. He of course did and offered to take us there. After a half hour walk up a somewhat steep incline we arrived at the open ‘gravesite’. Suki gave us the approval to touch and explore the remains. As I picked up the human skull I got this unnerving feeling as I looked into the eye sockets of what once used to be a human being. We wondered how old the remains were and we were tempted to take a sampling of the bones for DNA testing. Just a thought, well we really did entertain that idea! Suki didn’t offer much of an explanation as to the origin of the bones and I am not sure if it was because he didn’t know or whether it was better left up to our imagination.
From there Suki gave us a quick tour of the town. On the way back to his home I noticed a hole dug in the beach that was obviously the size of a coffin. I pointed it out to Becky and she jokingly remarked ‘maybe it was for us!!’ .
Later, after talking to our cruising friends in ‘Barco Punita’ we learned that the people in Fulaga were preparing for a funeral for a local that had died and the funeral was to take place ‘tomorrow’. Was he to be buried in the unmarked grave we saw on the beach?
October 13, 2014
Posting by Barb:
After 2 days sailing we finally could see Fulaga. It was early in the morning and before long we were going through the narrow reef passage. We just barely floated over some coral and realized after that we had gone a little off the recommended track. There were two other boats anchored near the shore where the trail led to the village. These boats were there for their last night after spending considerable time in Fulaga. We were able to say hello and goodbye to them and we were encouraged with all the good things they had to say about the island and the people. It was about a 30 minute walk to the village where we did the Sevu Sevu with with Daniel the chief.
Sevu Sevu with Chief Daniel and host Suki
It was a little more elaborate and sincere although we still didn’t participate in the ceremonial drinking of the Kava. After the ceremony Suki introduced himself and informed us he would be our ‘host’ family. The ‘host’ family concept was something new that the people of Fulaga had set up so that cruisers could bond with a family in the village and thus making it easier to experience the village culture and feel more ‘at home’. There are many different opinions shared by cruisers as to whether this was a positive or negative thing (there is an obligation to always go to the family when visiting the village and it minimizes the freedom one may want).But to us there is no dispute. We are the visitors to their home. Each time we anchor we are fully aware that once we step off our boat we are the guests and this is ‘their’ home and we respect their philosophies and we acclimatize ourselves to their way of doing things.
Suki and Ba were fabulous hosts and they made us feel at home and very welcome. Although they had no knowledge of our arrival they invited us to share a meal of sweet potatoes cooked in coconut milk (we probably ate their supper but there was no way of saying ‘no’ to their invitation). It was a simple offering served with such joy, pride and full of expectation of their forthcoming sharing of cultures, food and gifts. We asked them what we could give in return for their hospitality. They only thing they asked for was ‘water’ as it had not rained there for the last 3 months. The next morning they pulled up next to ‘Landfall’ in the communal power boat with their large water jugs to be filled and then left gifts of Papaya and Water Melons.
That afternoon we visited them at home and dropped off baked muffins and a box of tea bags. And so it began, the giving and receiving for our 3 weeks in Fulaga and what will follow is our highlights of our time there (October 13– November – 4).
October 10- 13, 2014
16 46.666S 179 19.959E
Posting by Barb:
So finally here is the cruising with Becky postings, a little late and after our arrival in New Zealand so we apologize for the sequence of blog postings.
We had had over a month with Allison and Mike and a week and a half with Pete and Melissa so we were getting accustomed to having company on board. It is after all only about 37 feet or11.2 meters of living space.
Becky arrived on a little plane at an airport near Savu Savu. It was basically an open air, chicken wire fence landing strip. Once the little plane landed, passengers were expected to hang around the plane while the suitcases were thrown out of the plane. Becky looked a little tired but that was expected after 24+ hours of flying and stopover time. We quickly brought her back to Landfall for what was probably one of the hottest nights on board. Becky slept despite the heat but I can’t say the same for Denny and me.
Without delay, the very next day, we made the decision to go to to Fulaga (pronounced Fulanga), Southern Lau. It was a ‘must go’ destination for Denny and me and luckily we had the weather window and we were able to do it. It is 185 miles South East of Savu Savu ( 298 km). It is usually a passage against strong prevailing winds and that seems to keep that Island fairly isolated (i.e No resorts, very few other cruisers, no internet, no shore power, no stores, etc.). With Becky’s help we provisioned for a month and by 2:00 pm we were motor sailing out of Savu Savu. Becky enjoyed the last little bit of internet for a while as she talked to friends while we were heading out.
It was a 2 night sail and Becky adjusted very well to being on water. We trolled four fishing lines and caught a large Mahi Mahi on our home made line and caught another on a smaller lure. We kept the larger of the two fish (the one on our homemade lure). That was a great start to our cruising with Becky and the beginning of our countless meals of fish.